BOSTON -- The Indians never doubted that Jason Donald was up for the challenge of filling a bench role this season, but they also knew it could be a tough assignment for the young infielder to handle.
On Saturday, Cleveland optioned Donald to Triple-A Columbus in light of his offensive struggles, which most likely stem from his sporadic playing time. The Indians purchased the contract of utility infielder Jose Lopez to fill Donald's spot on the bench.
"We feel that [Donald] needs to play," manager Manny Acta said. "I don't think it's an easy job to handle for young guys, especially guys that are doing it for the first time. I think Lopez is a veteran guy that handled it well when he was here. He's probably better equipped to do it.
"We need Jason to get regular at-bats. He's going to go down there and play."
In 16 games for the Tribe, the 27-year-old Donald hit just .178 with eight singles and four RBIs. He also managed only a .095 average against left-handed pitching. He served as a backup option for second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield, giving Cleveland a versatile right-handed option off the bench.
Lopez, 28, was on the Opening Day roster but was designated for assignment on May 1, when the team added outfielder Johnny Damon to the roster. The right-handed-hitting Lopez hit .190 with one homer and three RBIs in five games before being outrighted to Triple-A. While with Columbus, he hit .522 with four doubles and four RBIs in six games.
Lopez provides a backup option for first, second and third base, as well as designated hitter. Acta noted that third baseman Jack Hannahan can slide over to shortstop in the event that Cleveland needs to give Asdrubal Cabrera any time off.
"If it is something that is long-term, we'll obviously call somebody up to play," Acta said about the backup situation at shortstop. "But for a one-day type of thing, we're OK with Hannahan sliding over."